Dicamba drift puts natural areas at risk, environmental groups warn

After drift from the herbicide dicamba harmed millions of acres of soybeans in 2017, environmental groups are worried that it could damage sensitive ecological areas, particularly habitats for monarch butterflies. “There’s too much that no one is watching,” said Kim Erndt-Pitcher, a habitat and agriculture programs specialist at Prairie Rivers Network, a nonprofit advocacy group for clean water in Illinois. Erndt-Pitcher said that as dicamba drifted and harmed an estimated 600,000 acres of soybeans in Illinois in 2017, it’s likely that much of the habitat for endangered species and monarch butterflies was also damaged. “With soybeans, people are out looking for it because it can affect their bottom line,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With milkweed, the lack of complaints doesn’t mean it’s not there.

EPA eased herbicide regulations following Monsanto research, records show

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lessened protections for crops and wildlife habitats after Monsanto supplied research that presented lower estimates of how far the weed killer dicamba can drift, according to a review of federal documents. In its final report approving the usage of dicamba on soybeans, the agency expressed confidence that dicamba, new versions of which are made by Monsanto and German chemical company BASF, would not leave the field. The registration covered both herbicides, an EPA spokesperson said. “The EPA expects that exposure will remain confined to the dicamba (DGA) treated field,” the agency wrote in the final registration approving the use of dicamba in November 2016. However, drift from dicamba damaged more than 3.6 million acres of soybeans in 2017, according to data from Kevin Bradley, a professor at the University of Missouri.

Pesticide makers primed Illinois officials ahead of dicamba damage, emails show

By the time Illinois farmers started filing formal complaints of herbicide damage to their soybeans this year with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, state officials were already receiving advice from the makers of the herbicides, according to a review of department emails. Darrell Hoemann/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting
Dicamba resistant soybeans in rural McLean County on August 7. The emails – contained in more than 60 pages of documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act – show the companies often suggested how to deal with the complaints, sometimes without any solicitation from department officials. The emails covered the time period from January through September 2017. Monsanto, a St.

Pesticide applicators warned Illinois ag officials in 2016 about potential dicamba damage

The Illinois Department of Agriculture was warned a year ago about the potential crop damage that could be caused by the herbicide dicamba if the department didn’t tighten regulations on the herbicide’s use, according to department documents. Read department documents here The warning came from an industry group of pesticide applicators during a December 2016 meeting held to discuss whether the pesticide should be designated as “restricted use,” which means only certified applicators can apply the pesticide. A non-restricted use pesticide can be purchased and applied by anyone and records of application are not required. The usage of dicamba increased significantly in 2017, after a November 2016 decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to approve new formulations of the herbicide for use on a new genetically modified soybean seed made by Monsanto. Since then, after damage from dicamba spread across the Midwest and South, the U.S. EPA took steps to restrict the herbicide’s use.

Big Ag salary guide: Dow, Monsanto, ADM lead the way

Over the past three years, these companies have on average paid their executives and directors more than $100 million, according to a Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting review of financial filings. The median was $94.5 million.